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Mail bids to force council to hold referendum on elected mayor

The Birmingham Mail has launched a bid to force the city’s council to hold a referendum on an elected mayor.

It has set up a petition calling for a poll and needs 36,249 valid signatures within 12 months, five per cent of the city’s voters, to legally oblige the council to hold the referendum.

The move follows a ‘big debate’ organised by the Mail last month, which saw Middlesbrough’s elected mayor, Ray Mallon, speak in favour of the idea and Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood speak against.

A vote then saw 70 per cent in favour of a referendum, giving the people of Birmingham the right to decide if they wanted an elected mayor.

Steve Dyson, editor of the Mail, said: “We believe that the voters of Birmingham have the right to decide whether or not they would like an elected mayor.

“In every poll held so far on this subject, from as far back as 2001 to the last few weeks, people have indicated strong interest in making this decision.

“And yet the councillors who currently run this city disagree, and feel that only they should decide on elected mayors. The Birmingham Mail is therefore giving people the chance to have their say by launching a petition.

“A binding referendum will have to be held if there is sufficient public support behind this petition. It is time for the people to decide.”

Launching the petition in paper, the Mail said said it had first given the city council ten days to voluntarily agree to hold a binding public referendum, which it had not done.

The paper has also reported how Conservative leader David Cameron has backed a referendum, in contrast to the views of Coun Mike Whitby, the leader of the Conservative city council in Birmingham.

Cameron told the Mail: “I am a fan of elected mayors. And you can’t have an elected mayor without a referendum.”